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Angela
24-05-14, 17:35
I've been meaning to post about this exhibit for a while.

This is the description of the exhibit:
http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/fire/highlights

The artifacts come from the period 4500-3600 B.C. From the text, it appears that this was a highly complex society. The curators ask some interesting questions that have also been the subject of discussion on this Board.

"The idea of elites or chiefs was a concept new to the Copper Age, and no one is sure how a special group of people began to be treated in this exceptional way. Was this just an elaboration of family or tribal ties? Were these the most successful merchants or entrepreneurs? Or is it possible that control over the discovery of copper technology itself allowed certain individuals to gain power as chiefs and attract a retinue? Masters of Fire attempts to address these questions by assembling the full range of objects, materials, and iconographic motifs that characterized the lives of the communities settled in the Southern Levant. We are all aware that technological changes are often accompanied by social upheaval. As modern as this sounds, it also is the background for a prehistoric Copper Age that transformed the ancient world."

A short youtube video about the artifacts:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjjMBCKLf-w

These are the artifacts, with a little description:
http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/fire/highlights

The female figurine reminds me of the "bird goddesses" described by Gimbutas. As for the strip of linen, I have linen towels made by my grandmother from flax from their farm that is decoratively worked in the same exact manner. How little some things changed.

bicicleur
24-05-14, 21:08
i suppose this is copper from the Timna mines

we see new elites arise in coppersmelting cultures, but elites were not something new
elites allready existed in Uruk and other southern Mesopotamian cities, who didn't have copper ores but bought copper from the coppersmelters
it seems elites arises with wealth
they are people controlling production facilities and/or trade

the culture was destroyed by the proto-semitic invasion (E-M123 / E-M34)
i wonder, the Minoan civilization started, when this culture ended. the Minoans may have been fugitives from the southern Levant
the Minoans were craftsmen, it just took them some time to find some new markets, as they were cut off from the Uruk market

Goga
24-05-14, 21:43
http://s28.postimg.org/6yvoskpod/Sumerians.jpg

Aberdeen
24-05-14, 22:25
Thanks for the info, Angela. it would be interesting to know for sure the extent to which the spread of copper smelting occurred through major population movements, movements of small copper making and trading elites and/or the transmission of ideas across cultures. I don't think we really have enough data to know for sure, but the stuff you posted about copper in Italy in another thread would suggest that it may have been spread by small copper making and trading elites. That must have been a fairly profound cultural change.

Angela
24-05-14, 23:03
i suppose this is copper from the Timna mines

we see new elites arise in coppersmelting cultures, but elites were not something new
elites allready existed in Uruk and other southern Mesopotamian cities, who didn't have copper ores but bought copper from the coppersmelters
it seems elites arises with wealth
they are people controlling production facilities and/or trade

the culture was destroyed by the proto-semitic invasion (E-M123 / E-M34)
i wonder, the Minoan civilization started, when this culture ended. the Minoans may have been fugitives from the southern Levant
the Minoans were craftsmen, it just took them some time to find some new markets, as they were cut off from the Uruk market

I remember you mentioning the elite culture of Uruk in this regard before...do you have some links that you could provide about the culture specifically with regard to their relationship with copper providers?

Angela
25-05-14, 16:24
Thanks for the info, Angela. it would be interesting to know for sure the extent to which the spread of copper smelting occurred through major population movements, movements of small copper making and trading elites and/or the transmission of ideas across cultures. I don't think we really have enough data to know for sure, but the stuff you posted about copper in Italy in another thread would suggest that it may have been spread by small copper making and trading elites. That must have been a fairly profound cultural change.



That's what it suggests to me, but mostly because there's no archaeological evidence to my knowledge which indicates large movements of people. There's also the fact that Oetzi certainly doesn't seem like a genetic intruder, but on the other hand if the people in the Balkans at the time were very similar to the ones already in Italy, then we wouldn't be able to trace the extent of the movement by autosomal analysis.

That's why, despite the scorn of certain people, I think there's still a place for analysis based on yDNA uniparental markers. An incoming copper age artisan from the Balkans or Crete or directly from the Near East might not have been all that different genetically from the "natives", but if he carries a new "Y" for the area, then at least we know there was some actual migration. The same would apply to the Bronze Age or Iron Age movements from Greece and the Aegean.

As for creating great cultural change, I'm not sure about that as far as it concerns Italy until the Bronze Age. One of the things that I sometimes lose sight of is that there is a very truncated Copper Age in many parts of Europe. It's not like the Near East, where it lasted for so much longer.

Also, I think that due to the relative softness of copper, its superiority to flint tools and weapons is sometimes exaggerated. A lot of the things I have read actually see these copper items more as luxury and prestige goods. Only with the Bronze Age and, of course, the Iron Age, is there a quantum leap, I think.

I'm also intrigued by this "elite" structure which developed in the Levant, for example. Did the crafting of metal really create them? Or, as I think may perhaps be the case, did the creation of wealth in the form of surplus agricultural products, and involvement in the rituals surrounding agriculture create them, and metals were just a symbol of that power.

Aberdeen
25-05-14, 21:56
I don't know much about how early people actually used their tools, but I do actually know something about the relative value of tools and weapons made from different materials, mostly because I got interested in blacksmithing as a hobby, because my great great grandfather was a professional blacksmith. I didn't have enough time to pursue the hobby with any seriousness, but I did introduce the blacksmiths I met to some flint knappers I also happened to know, and they did some tests with flint and obsidian knives, iron knives, an antique decorative copper dagger and a bronze dagger that someone bought from an English source who's unfortunately no longer in business. Flint and obsidian can actually be razor sharp if shaped by an expert, but both kinds of stone are quite brittle and shatter easily. The copper dagger didn't take an edge very well, and was thin enough to bend when used to shatter a flint dagger, but I think a thick copper dagger would be much less bendable, although still not very sharp. The iron blades were sharper and harder than the copper blade, but not as hard as the bronze blade. It wasn't very sharp, but it could break an iron blade.

I imagine that where coppper really made a difference was in cooking and woodworking. Before there were copper bowls or frying pans, the cooking options would have been broiling food on a stick or cooking with ceramic vessels, which would probably have required the use of indirect heat, but copper pots would have made things much easier. Copper adzes, wedges and hammers would have made woodworking much easier, and I imagine woodworking would have been an important craft for early people. (Copper hammers are still used in some manufacturing and repair processes, where you don't want to risk a spark.) But copper daggers and spearheads wouldn't have been much of an improvement over flint - not inclined to shatter like flint or obsidian but not that strong, and not very sharp. The development of bronze weapons would have been another story entirely.

So, overall, I think the invention of copper cooking and woodworking tools would have made life much easier, and the ability to make copper (and gold) jewelry would have made status display much easier. A necklace of copper leaves would no doubt have looked very impressive to someone used to only working with stone and bone. And I suppose it's possible that copper workers protected their status by belonging to secret societies similar to the medieval craft guilds. The medieval architects, stone masons, etc. could travel all around in safety and offer their services to the highest bidder because their special skills were so valued as to make them protected classes of workers, and the same might have been true of copper smiths and makers of high quality pottery in the late Neolithic. (I think the two occupations probably went together, because you need ceramic vessels for use as copper moulds.) Of course, only those who had an agricultural surplus could afford to buy the services of copper smiths, but copper tools made life easier. Perhaps if chiefs or "big men" were emerging in the late Neolithic, they would have either bought the services of copper smiths or tried to control them.

Angela
26-05-14, 02:19
I don't know much about how early people actually used their tools, but I do actually know something about the relative value of tools and weapons made from different materials, mostly because I got interested in blacksmithing as a hobby, because my great great grandfather was a professional blacksmith. I didn't have enough time to pursue the hobby with any seriousness, but I did introduce the blacksmiths I met to some flint knappers I also happened to know, and they did some tests with flint and obsidian knives, iron knives, an antique decorative copper dagger and a bronze dagger that someone bought from an English source who's unfortunately no longer in business. Flint and obsidian can actually be razor sharp if shaped by an expert, but both kinds of stone are quite brittle and shatter easily. The copper dagger didn't take an edge very well, and was thin enough to bend when used to shatter a flint dagger, but I think a thick copper dagger would be much less bendable, although still not very sharp. The iron blades were sharper and harder than the copper blade, but not as hard as the bronze blade. It wasn't very sharp, but it could break an iron blade.

I imagine that where coppper really made a difference was in cooking and woodworking. Before there were copper bowls or frying pans, the cooking options would have been broiling food on a stick or cooking with ceramic vessels, which would probably have required the use of indirect heat, but copper pots would have made things much easier. Copper adzes, wedges and hammers would have made woodworking much easier, and I imagine woodworking would have been an important craft for early people. (Copper hammers are still used in some manufacturing and repair processes, where you don't want to risk a spark.) But copper daggers and spearheads wouldn't have been much of an improvement over flint - not inclined to shatter like flint or obsidian but not that strong, and not very sharp. The development of bronze weapons would have been another story entirely.

So, overall, I think the invention of copper cooking and woodworking tools would have made life much easier, and the ability to make copper (and gold) jewelry would have made status display much easier. A necklace of copper leaves would no doubt have looked very impressive to someone used to only working with stone and bone. And I suppose it's possible that copper workers protected their status by belonging to secret societies similar to the medieval craft guilds. The medieval architects, stone masons, etc. could travel all around in safety and offer their services to the highest bidder because their special skills were so valued as to make them protected classes of workers, and the same might have been true of copper smiths and makers of high quality pottery in the late Neolithic. (I think the two occupations probably went together, because you need ceramic vessels for use as copper moulds.) Of course, only those who had an agricultural surplus could afford to buy the services of copper smiths, but copper tools made life easier. Perhaps if chiefs or "big men" were emerging in the late Neolithic, they would have either bought the services of copper smiths or tried to control them.



That's very interesting stuff, Aberdeen, and it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing it. It clears up many of the things I've read in these papers about the use of copper.

I hope you don't mind if I get personal for a moment...you're a backwoodsmen who often goes out camping on his own, and now I find out you can do some blacksmithing. I'm assuming you also hunt and fish. If the zombie apocalypse ever actually happens, may my family and I look you up?http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/grin.png

Now that my father is gone, my menfolk are hopeless. However, I can bring some skills to the table, like growing vegetables, sewing, and even weaving, and I used to know how to tend chickens and rabbits too. Oh, and I'm a great cook, whether with ceramic (yes, you use indirect heat) or copper. http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/smile.gif

(We're mad where I come from...we never gave up on farro, or chestnut flour, and we still cook flat breads, pastas and stews in ceramic utensils that, in the case of bread or pasta, are heated over a wood fire and then taken off for the actual cooking. To make tortas and stews we use a big one with a conical top, a testarolo, which is placed in the ashes of the fire. For polenta though, you need a big COPPER pot!)

http://www.arpp.it/media/foto/02.jpg

LeBrok
26-05-14, 03:26
http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/fire/images/female-figurine/@@images/b60a00b9-28ff-445c-961d-872afc8431ef.jpeg

I'm looking at this highly stylized figuring and I'm don't see how archaeologists can be sure that it represents a female. Just a curious not. I like the exhibition, contemporary with Verna and Cucuteni.

Aberdeen
26-05-14, 03:38
http://isaw.nyu.edu/exhibitions/fire/images/female-figurine/@@images/b60a00b9-28ff-445c-961d-872afc8431ef.jpeg

I'm looking at this highly stylized figuring and I'm don't see how archaeologists can be sure that it represents a female. Just a curious not. I like the exhibition, contemporary with Verna and Cucuteni.

It looks a bit like something Modigliani might have created during one of his more abstract periods. And when I look at the face, I'm fairly sure it's meant to be either a woman or a pigeon sitting in a tree.

Aberdeen
26-05-14, 03:45
That's very interesting stuff, Aberdeen, and it makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing it. It clears up many of the things I've read in these papers about the use of copper.

I hope you don't mind if I get personal for a moment...you're a backwoodsmen who often goes out camping on his own, and now I find out you can do some blacksmithing. I'm assuming you also hunt and fish. If the zombie apocalypse ever actually happens, may my family and I look you up?http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/grin.png

Now that my father is gone, my menfolk are hopeless. However, I can bring some skills to the table, like growing vegetables, sewing, and even weaving, and I used to know how to tend chickens and rabbits too. Oh, and I'm a great cook, whether with ceramic (yes, you use indirect heat) or copper. http://cdn.eupedia.com/forum/images/smilies/main/smile.gif

(We're mad where I come from...we never gave up on farro, or chestnut flour, and we still cook flat breads, pastas and stews in ceramic utensils that, in the case of bread or pasta, are heated over a wood fire and then taken off for the actual cooking. To make tortas and stews we use a big one with a conical top, a testarolo, which is placed in the ashes of the fire. For polenta though, you need a big COPPER pot!)

http://www.arpp.it/media/foto/02.jpg

Thanks for the offer, but I must admit that I'm fairly urbanized these days. A lot of my wilderness experience happened during my younger days. I'd be a bit out of practice for field dressing a deer. And I never made much progress at blacksmithing, because other things were claiming my time when I had the chance to learn. About all I could reliably do is sharpen blades and retemper iron. But if everyone on this forum somehow gets sent back in time to the Neolithic, I'd want you on my side. It sounds as if you have a lot of skills that would be very useful in a low tech environment. I have some friends who are seriously into the survivalist stuff, expecting society to collapse and all that, and they'd love to have someone like you with them when they escape into the woods to wait out the apocalypse. Impressive photo, BTW.

LeBrok
26-05-14, 03:49
Flint and obsidian can actually be razor sharp if shaped by an expert, but both kinds of stone are quite brittle and shatter easily. The copper dagger didn't take an edge very well, and was thin enough to bend when used to shatter a flint dagger, but I think a thick copper dagger would be much less bendable, although still not very sharp. The iron blades were sharper and harder than the copper blade, but not as hard as the bronze blade. It wasn't very sharp, but it could break an iron blade. Great insides, thanks.


I imagine that where coppper really made a difference was in cooking and woodworking I think you are right. Almost anything was made out of wood those days, or even stone buildings needed copper chisel to shape stone blocks.




. Before there were copper bowls or frying pans, the cooking options would have been broiling food on a stick or cooking with ceramic vessels, which would probably have required the use of indirect heat Boiling water and making soups is fine in ceramic, water keeps temperature below 100C. Frying in ceramics could be a problem though.

oldeuropeanculture
13-08-14, 23:09
Boiling water and making soups is fine in ceramic, water keeps temperature below 100C. Frying in ceramics could be a problem though.

you fry and bake on stone slabs.


it would be interesting to know for sure the extent to which the spread of copper smelting occurred through major population movements, movements of small copper making and trading elites and/or the transmission of ideas across cultures.

Metal work was the sacred knowledge, not something shared with the first passerby. Also finding, extracting, smelting, casting are all highly specialized skills which take a long time to master (particularly smelting and casting). They are also a labor intensive operations and require long term concentrated effort. Not something a small group of people would be able to do, unless they can force local population to do the digging for them. I believe that there was definitely a movement of people from the Balkans in all directions.

At the time when vincans were making first bronze, not copper (5000 bc) the rest of the world was still using stone and treating metal as precious....

Stone tools are perfectly good for large scale woodwork.